"There's a Massive Restaurant Industry Bubble and It's About to Burst"
As someone who designs restaurants for a living, I found the headline above really provocative when I saw it. It's from a reporter who spent more than a year researching the restaurant industry, and then published his findings on Thrillist. He was interviewed recently about his conclusions on NPR (check it out here).
The reporter makes some great points about why this might be true across the country -- rising labor costs, a shortage of service workers, too many copycat restaurants.
But is this true for Charlotte? I don't think so, for a few reasons:
We are a young city when it comes to our restaurant scene. For years, Charlotte was viewed as a bankers' town, full of steakhouses. But as we've grown, we've attracted more diverse offerings, tempting talented chefs to relocate here and Johnson & Wales to open a campus in the Queen City. But given the size of our city, I believe we're still under served in terms of the variety and number of restaurants. According to Zagat's, our "burgeoning dining scene is just getting started."
Charlotte was hit hard by the last recession because of our exposure to banking and financial services. Many restaurants and other businesses closed. But the silver lining is that the restaurants and restaurateurs who survived are stronger and more knowledgeable than ever. They have a better sense of what will work in our market and what won't.
For all these reasons, I'm hopeful that the best days for Charlotte's restaurant scene are yet to come.
Photo from bythefoodplace.co.uk, licensed under CC BY 4.0